October 7, 2015 Energy No Comments
How solar creates electricity

Solar energy is a renewable energy resource

that is more affordable now than ever before, and is used to produce electricity for a wide variety of residential and commercial uses. This electricity produced from sunlight will be a key part of our journey toward a sustainable energy future. Solar power is a good way to help the environment, because we reduce or entirely eliminate fossil fuel use, and we also save money, because the electricity generated by solar systems is considered to be free once the systems are in place.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) technology, which produces electricity from the sun’s light, is not the same as solar thermal technology, which produces usable heat for buildings from the sun’s heat. In photovoltaic solar systems, solar panels made of silicon become charged with solar light energy, which is then converted into electricity¹.

In the Northern Hemisphere, solar PV panels face south, and in the Southern Hemisphere, solar PV panels face north in order to capture solar light energy the most efficiently.

As the solar light energy is captured and collected within the PV panel, the conductors in the panel convert the sunlight into Direct Current (DC) electricity, and then this DC current flows into an inverter. The converter transforms the DC current into Alternate Current (AC), which can be used to power things in residences and other buildings that require electricity¹,².
For any extra solar-generated electricity that is not used on site, there are two primary options and one hybrid option:

    • On-grid systems

On-grid systems, which feed electricity back into the electrical grid. Electricity companies will typically pay homeowners for the extra electricity that is fed back into the grid. Since these systems work in concert with the grid, externally-sourced electricity is available when more power is needed than is being produced by the solar energy system. Such systems allow for electricity availability at all times, even at night when there is no sunshine².

One drawback to this type of solar system is that when the grid is down, the system might not be utilized³.


    • Off-grid systems

Off-grid systems are stand alone solar systems that rely on a battery to store solar energy for use during the night and at other times when there is more electricity needed than is being generated by the solar system.


    • On-grid solar systems with a battery backup

On-grid solar systems with a battery backup feed solar energy-generated electricity back into the grid when the grid is operating, but in the event of a grid blackout, these systems will switch to an off-grid mode. In this off-grid mode, the backup battery is used to supply stored solar power, and the solar panels charge the battery³.



¹ http://goo.gl/mLukf
² http://www.originenergy.com.au/for-home/solar/about-solar.html
³ http://www.wholesalesolar.com/grid-tie-battery-backup

Written by Greentumble Editorial Team